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Higher fees for wider boats as CRT completes licensing shake-up

PUBLISHED: 11:03 04 April 2018 | UPDATED: 11:03 04 April 2018

Little and large: the wide boat will be in a higher price band than the narrowboat (photo: Martin Ludgate)

Little and large: the wide boat will be in a higher price band than the narrowboat (photo: Martin Ludgate)

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Owners of widebeam craft will be paying more for licences than narrrowboaters following the Canal & River Trust’s licensing review

Owners of widebeam craft will be paying more for their licences than narrrowboaters following the Canal & River Trust’s licensing review – but the idea of charging higher rates for ‘continuous cruisers’ without home moorings has been rejected, despite widespread support in the final stage of the consultation.

In the final stage of an exercise which has taken over a year, CRT has announced the introduction of three width-based price bands to operate in combination with the existing length-based bands.

• Band 1: up to 2.16m (7ft 1in) beam

• Band 2: over 2.16m (7ft 1in) but no wider than 3.24m (10ft 7¾in); fees 10 percent higher than narrowboats

• Band 3: wider than 3.24m (10ft 7¾in); fees 20 percent higher than narrowboats

The changes will be phased, with Band 2 boats seeing 5 percent rises in 2020 and 2021, while Band 3 craft will be subject to a series of four 5 percent increases from 2020 to 2023.

Another change which will impact many boaters is the reduction of the prompt payment discount from 10 percent to 5 percent – which will then be replaced with 2.5 percent for prompt payment and a further 2.5 percent for ‘automated payment’ (such as direct debit).

On the subject of boats without home moorings, even though a majority of those responding to the online consultation indicated they would support a change to take mooring status into account as part of the licensing system, CRT said that there were “heavily polarised views with a significant number arguing strongly against this, stating that any such distinction would be highly divisive”. The Trust has therefore decided instead to “look at options that would address the growing use of canals in London and other areas by boats without a home mooring and how to develop a fair means of reflecting the significant benefit gained by such use”.

The result of the review has been criticised by The Inland Waterways Association as a “missed opportunity”. Chairman Ivor Caplan slated it for doing “nothing to address two of IWA’s key concerns; the increasing use of widebeam boats on inappropriate waterways to the detriment of other waterways users, and ensuring that boaters without a home mooring cruise an appropriate distance.”

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